In 1994, the designer Desre Buirski gave a gift of a hand-printed batik shirt to Nelson Mandela’s body guard, with a note saying “Thank you for everything you have done and the sacrifices you have made for our beloved country”. Mr Mandela wore the shirt the next day to the dress rehearsal for the opening of Parliament, and was photographed on the front page of a local newspaper.
Mr Mandela has received international acclaim for his anti-colonial and antiapartheid stance, having received over 250 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, and is held in deep respect within South Africa as the “Father of the Nation”, where he is often known under his Xhosa clan name of Madiba.
Desre Buirski subsequently designed many printed, embroidered and over 150 hand-painted silk shirts for South Africa’s beloved Madiba, which he wore on the world stage, becoming a global style as well as political icon. The style of ’The Madiba Shirt’ evolved as Mr Mandela requested various shirts throughout his time as President.